Student notes from medical lectures by Benjamin Rush, undated, v.3

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Content Notes

The volumes contain student notes on a course of medical lectures given by Dr. Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) while he was Professor of the Institutes of Medicine and Clinical Practice at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, likely in circa 1800-1813. The notes indicate Rush often referenced the works or teachings of contemporaries such as Scottish physicians William Cullen, John Brown, John Gregory, and Robert Whytt, and Dutch physician Herman Boerhaave. He frequently included anecdotes and case histories of his own patients, as well as those of other doctors, to illustrate his lecture topics. He also advised students to take notes on the lectures after they ended to allow them to focus on what they were hearing. Volume 1 includes notes on: physician conduct during visits to patients; human and animal physiology; voice and speech; the nervous system; the five senses; and faculties of the mind. Volume 2 includes notes on: food, the sources of appetite and thirst, and digestion; the lymphatic system; secretions; excretions; theories of nutrition; differences in the minds and bodies of women and men; reproduction; pathology; a table outlining the stages of disease production; “disease and the origin of moral and natural evil”; contagions; the role of food, drink, and clothing in producing disease; worms; hereditary diseases; predisposition to diseases; proximate causes of diseases; and pulmonary conditions. Volume 3 includes notes on: the pulse; therapeutics, such as emetics, sedatives, and digitalis, and treatment of various illnesses like pulmonary consumption, kidney disease, palsy, and rheumatism; diagnosis and prognosis of fever; treatment of intermitting fever; and epidemics including plague, smallpox, and yellow fever, with an emphasis on the yellow fever outbreaks in Philadelphia in 1793 and 1797.

Biographical Notes

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), A.B., 1760, College of New Jersey (Princeton); M.D., 1768, University of Edinburgh, was a Philadelphia physician and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. During his tenure there, Rush served as Professor of Chemistry (1769-1789); Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine (1789-1791, 1796-1813); and Professor of the Institutes of Medicine and Clinical Practice (1791-1813). He was employed as a surgeon at Pennsylvania Hospital from 1784 until his death. In addition, Rush was a member of Second Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence, and he was Surgeon General of the Middle Department of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.